For those of you prepared to travel abroad to buy a car, Lexus offers several drivetrains for the IS. In the UK, the choice is limited to just two – undoubtedly the ones it believed would be most popular here, of course. There’s a 242bhp four-cylinder turbo petrol, or you can go for a naturally-aspirated 2.5 (still with four cylinders) which is less powerful but is backed up by an electric motor.
The IS 300h hybrid is the one being considered here. You know the score. It’s slower than the IS 200t turbo and more expensive to buy, though only by about £1000, which isn’t much considering the overall price of these cars.
Running costs are in a different league. The official fuel consumption of the hybrid is 61.4mpg, more than 50% better than that of the 200t. This should allow you to make up for the price difference well before you sell the car, especially if you do a lot of driving.
This is the third-generation IS. Lexus describes it as a ‘sports saloon’, which is also what it has called every other IS back to the turn of the century. I have never agreed with this before and I don’t agree with it now. None of the ones I’ve driven over the years has inspired me to tackle corners with any gusto. For me, they work much better at cruisers.
The IS 300h is hobbled here by weighing 60kg more than the 200t due to its electric motor and battery pack. That’s a lot to be carrying around, and it means the car much prefers travelling in a straight line on smooth tarmac than dealing with bends or bumps.
If you ignore the ‘sports’ tag, this has an upside. The IS 300h does gentle wafting quite well, and you’re rarely inspired to attempt anything else. Because of the CVT transmission, burying the accelerator pedal in the carpet, in the unlikely event that you wish to do this, send the revs skyrocketing almost immediately. When stressed like this, the normally almost inaudible engine emits a flat cry, very disappointing compared with the six-cylinder howl the car looks like it should make.
On the whole you tend to avoid this, which is great for fuel economy. Even if you don’t regularly achieve the quoted 61.4mpg, which would take some doing, at least you should get over 50mpg in everyday motoring. Good luck with that in a 200t.
Engine size 2494cc plus electric motor
Power 319bhp (total system)
Top speed 125mph
0-62mph 8.4 seconds
Fuel economy 61.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions 107g/km
Towing capacity 750kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2013) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 91% Child occupant 85% Pedestrian 80% Safety assist 66%
Information correct at publication date